AimHire & Get Hired
Can you graduate at Friendship Place? You bet you can!
In March, at a ceremony complete with blue and white balloons and cupcakes, 28 participants in Friendship Place’s AimHire program accepted their diplomas from Friendship Place president Jean-Michel Giraud and AimHire director David Vicenty. These smiling graduates had completed an innovative job-hunting program that connects homeless individuals with potential employers. Participants train in basic computer skills, resume and interview preparation, and receive job search and recovery assistance.
Vicenty, who once lived homeless and in his car for two years, encouraged the graduates to build on what they had learned and to “stay hungry” as they move up the employment ladder. Along the way, he reminded them to stay positive in the face of setbacks and to practice self-care to keep themselves physically and mentally healthy. Using the words of Abraham Lincoln, Vincenty told the graduates that “the best way to predict your future is to create it.”
Being both jobless and homeless is a vicious cycle. You can’t get a job when you don’t have a place to live, and you can’t get a place to live without a job. AimHire offers people a way out, taking a personalized approach with each participant, helping them assess their skills, strengths, and needs. Some participants can draw from past work experience. Some have lost jobs after a destructive life event and need tools and services to reconnect. Staff and participants work together on barriers to employment and housing, such as incarceration, prior felonies and substance abuse.
One 2019 AimHire grad, Lawrence Collins, had been married with three children. But for 20 years, he also struggled with alcoholism and anger. His troubles eventually ended his marriage and landed him in jail. Collins lost everything and lived for long periods in shelters. Meeting with his AimHire counselor, Lawrence slowly began to reclaim his self-respect and job skills. He got help with money for a security deposit and an apartment and now works at Target. He credits AimHire for “meeting you at the point of your need.” Lawrence had tried other job and housing programs, but he says it was at AimHire that he finally realized that work and home made him part of a community. “It changed me,” he says. “I bought into the concept and I trust it now.”
Clarence Brown came from the mean streets of Chicago. He met AimHire the day he walked into Friendship Place’s Welcome Center in Northwest DC. He was there to take a shower and find some healthy food. But what he saw inside the center impressed him. He saw computers where he could look for a job and places to live. And he began meeting with counselors who knew what homeless life was like and were willing to talk to him, not for just for a few minutes, but for two or three hours. “There’s not a long line at Friendship Place,” he says, “and you aren’t treated like a number.” Brown, who has a police record, knew he faced obstacles in finding housing and a job. But he now works in a restaurant kitchen and has a place to live. For him, Friendship Place has been a “safe and peaceful” place and a “stepping stone” for getting his life going again.
Indeed, completing AimHire is not an end, Jean-Michel Giraud told the graduates, staff, and volunteers. It is an opportunity for a new beginning. He urged the graduates to stay in touch, help each other, and continue moving forward in their personal, professional, and spiritual lives.